2012 Red Blend, Bell Canyon Napa Reserve

It’s the profile of the winemaker that originally drew me to the first reserve–the 2012 Red Blend–from Bell Canyon in Napa. We’ll revisit that idea in a later post on the 2012. For the time being, let’s focus instead on the wine itself.

2012 Red Blend, Bell Canyon Cellars Napa Reserve, Napa, California, USA.

2012 Red Blend, Bell Canyon Cellars Napa Reserve, Napa, California, USA.

You have some big, juicy grapes in play here. It’s easy to think cherries in some dominant way, with other dark berries in the mix, and just a hint of vanilla (less desired by this taster) too. I detect some spice accents, particularly as you swirl it in red waves around the glass, that come through in the taste too. It’s yards from a Pinot Noir, and more seasoned than a Merlot. The 2012 Red Blend Bell Canyon Napa Reserve is probably described by experts as a ‘Bordeaux-style’ red; I think of it more like a Cabernet Sauvignon that has a shallower tone to it. Is it wrong to talk about wine as a tone? I just mean a true Cabernet can have similar accents but is somehow deeper in its profile.

I’d also offer the analogy that the 2012 Red Blend is to (just one recent example) the 2012 Carnivore Cab as a tenor is to a bass. Does that make sense to you now?

Additional context–I’m having the Bell Canyon tonight during the cocktail hour but opened it earlier this week when having ground beef, a cheeeesy macaroni and cheese, and some broccoli. I was caught in some work-related time constraints at that time, but this evening it’s more about relaxing and mulling over this fine red wine from the country’s best known region. More on this bottle in the future!

Domaine Virginie Thunevin AOC Bordeaux, 2009

Sorry to say this is our last (at least currently) bottle of the Domaine Virginie Thunevin AOC Bordeaux, 2009.  On a beautiful fall Friday, this Bordeaux was a perfect option for one of our favorite meals–accompanying well-seasoned steaks, tender red baby potatoes, and blue cheese salads with the crumble, freshly ground pepper, and blue cheese dressing.

Domaine Virginie Thunevin AOC Bordeaux, 2009, France.

Domaine Virginie Thunevin AOC Bordeaux, 2009, France.

Created by winemaker Jean-Luc Thunevin and named for his daughter, this Bordeaux combines Merlot (70%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), and Cabernet Franc (10%).  It’s excellent when working alongside a medium rare, salted steak–and my lovely and talented chef (photographer too!) knows how to tease all the flavors out of a great cut.

From a tasting standpoint, the 2009 Domaine Virginie Thunevin AOC Bordeaux is fruity and aromatic.  The berries waft up, juicy and full on the nose, and–despite a hint of tannin in your first smell–it has a surprisingly smooth and easy finish.  My wife thought much the same in her sampling.  It is very drinkable to say the least.

I think we’ve now had this Bordeaux with steaks on a few occasions, pizza on another, and I forget the other time.  Thinking back (enviously, I must say) now, the 2009 Virginie seems to be very functional–you can drink it upscale with steaks or downscale with a casual pie and it complements both effectively.  Wish we had another and you should too.

2010 Tormaresca Neprica Red Blend Puglia

Memory does interesting things to us.  For some, it’s the process by which we as humans (certain animals too, I suppose) react to the world around us, encoding, storing, and later retrieving some stimulus to our consciousness.  To those of us grape fans, it either builds up a great bottle or dismantles some less-than-stellar bottle of something you had years ago.  Memory is many things, and fickle prime among them.

2010 Tormaresca Neprica Red Blend Puglia, Italy.

2010 Tormaresca Neprica Red Blend Puglia, Italy.

Take this 2010 Tormaresca Neprica Red Blend Puglia, for example.  I know we had many bottles of the Neprica over the last couple years–perhaps even a case?–and I had always thought it very equal to the task.  Better than equal, even, and bet you could find earlier posts here in Notes that substantiate this vibe.  But that’s just my memory of the Neprica, as I haven’t had one in almost a full calendar year.

This week, however, I uncorked this last bottle of red blend to sample after work.  On one or two occasions, the glass may have even carried over to our dinner meal, but I think it was mostly consumed just on its own merits.  A good beverage, to be sure, but not quite up to all the praise I had offered in 2012.

To some extent, I think wine tasting is about context.  That great Cabernet goes to another level when you have it with great company and/or a great steak dinner.  The amazing Pinot Noir works well in part because of your food pairing, but perhaps in part too because you had a less worthwhile red the last time out.  That’s sort of the case here too with the 2010 Tormaresca Neprica: I’d now call it average, partly because my palate is slightly more attuned than last year, and in part owing to the great wines we’ve recently enjoyed and cataloged in this blog.  The Neprica is still full and delicious…I’d just say that it perhaps lacks some of the nuances and subtle spice notes that I’m enjoying in the Bordeauxs, Cabs, and Pinots we have sampled more recently.  Last thought–I’ll like my next one, and it’s a good value.